Tom Ginsburg, COVID-19 and States of Emergency: Legal Responses to COVID-19 Around The World

The fight against COVID-19 has led many countries, including liberal democracies, to take extraordinary measures that would undoubtedly be constitutionally problematic in normal times.

While it is too soon to explore the long-term consequences of COVID-19 for constitutional democracy, it is helpful to understand the legal bases for the extraordinary powers that governments are currently exercising. In this talk, Professor Ginsburg discusses three broad legal bases for the COVID-19 measures: (1) the declaration of a state of emergency under the constitution, (2) the use of existing legislation dealing with public health or national disasters, and (3) the passing of new emergency legislation. He then evaluates their respective risks to civil liberties and the rule of law.

This talk was presented on May 5, 2020, and co-sponsored by the Law School International Programs, International Human Rights Clinic, International Law Society, and Human Rights Law Society.